Well, kids, I recently returned from an extended trip to Orlando. And it was every bit as magical (you pick your variety) as you would imagine. I mixed it my two sons, my ex (mother of my sons), and the Photoshop World conference, not to mention the heat, humidity, and monsoon-style rain that is the central Florida. We loved it, we hated it. We celebrated, we cursed. Here’s a snapshot from one of the sunny days, featuring my wicked-smart highly social eldest son, Max, on the right, and my wicked-tough circumspect youngest son, Sam, on the left. Two more different boys you could not meet. And yet, they both chose to adorn themselves in goofy sunglasses and ball caps. Gosh, I love them.
In reflecting on the eight days of pure Disneyness, I’m not sure I have much of a story to tell. Not one that hasn’t been told before, anyway. There were huge crowds, long lines, and short rides. We spent a lot of energy grabbing food, drink, and “fast pass” tickets. And whenever I spoke with a Disney “cast member,” each and every hireling ended our discussion with that excellent catchphrase, “Have a magical day!” Which, despite the amazing sincerity with which the words were delivered, did nothing to heighten the #magic of the crowds, lines, and short rides.
Do I sound Grumpy? Perish the thought! We had an exemplary time.
Just check this next photo. We were attending a character breakfast, at which big-headed costumed people magically visit you while you eat cafeteria food. The featured character was Donald Duck. (I love his name. In his honor, I’m thinking of changing mine to Deke Human.) My sons and I know Donald very well from his 1940s cartoons, in which he behaves like an ill-tempered hothead who, among other acts, locks his nephews in a closet so that he can get lucky with Daisy (the only female member of his species in the neighborhood). So Sam asked me if he could pick a fight with Donald. I said sure; given Donald’s history as a self-serving child abuser, that struck me as appropriate. And so Sam mimicked the revolving punch, kick-dance performance for which Donald is so renowned. The tiny costumed performer of Donald gave Sam the tsk-tsk gesture. (Unlike in the movies, where Donald speaks words of indecipherable quackiness, his physical manifestation is a mime.) Which clearly indicated a lack of training. Donald does not tsk-tsk, you silly impersonator, he loses his shit! But, sadly, instead of fighting Donald—which would have been outrageously cool—my sons revolved around him like apparitions. Below we see an unedited photo. Witness how they mess with him? Oh, Donald, you’re such a tool.
Moments later, Goofy came by. (Pardon me for sidebarring, but what is this animal? I have a theory that he’s a dog: a senescent, bipedal, talking dog, as opposed to Pluto, who’s a smaller brained, quadrupedal, barking dog. But in person, they’re both upright mutes. So WTF?) Unlike Donald, who is shorter than my ten-year-old, Goofy is roughly the height of a giraffe. And I have to give him cred, because he managed to steal my sons’ ghosting abilities. It’s as if he’s trying to teleport from our chaotic culinary nightmare. Is this what the cast members mean by “have a magical day”? Because if so, they should add, “and try not to be freaked the hell out by it.”
Later, my youngest performed this dramatic impression of Goofy. I found it to be unconvincing. He was much too short.
We did the usual junk people do in Disney World. We rode the self-deprecating Jungle Cruise. Here’s evidence, including the deletion of a fellow passenger thanks to the miracle of Photoshop’s “context-aware fill.” Gosh, it’s seamless.
And here are the boys after the Pirates of the Caribbean, doing their Jack Sparrow imitations. I love these shots, but I’m pretty sure I saw a different movie.
Near the end, after seven days of park hopping—interrupted by me periodically whisking away to speak at Photoshop World—we had seen everything that the cloying and belching Disney Factory had to offer. I had planned to take the crew to Universal Studios. It offers more thrill rides and, as I recall, it’s more fun. (If I was an ad guy for Universal, I’d pitch the slogan: “We’ve Got Harry Potter, How’s That for Magic (You Stupid Cartoon Mouse)?” Pretty catchy, huh?) But it was not to be. Universal wanted to charge me the country’s national debt to attend, and Disney just wanted another $5 per family member. Plus, Sam was two inches too young to get on the Hulk ride, so screw that. Instead, we promised the boys they could pick their three favorite Disney rides and we’d hit every one. That meant going to all four theme parks in one day: Expedition Everest (aka the Matterhorn) in Animal Kingdom, Tower of Terror and Rockin’ Roller Coaster in Hollywood Studios, Space and Splash Mountains in Magic Kingdom, and Mission Space in EPCOT.
Parents, on reflection, I do not recommend this strategy. Hitting four Disney parks in one day is akin to flying to Australia for a single afternoon. We were in constant motion. An anonymous but saint-like cast member slipped us some free-return tickets at Hollywood Studios, which permitted us to zing thru Tower of Terror and Rockin’ Roller Coaster (which features Illeana Douglas opposite the worst actors in recorded history, Aerosmith (seriously, why are they popular?)) in just over an hour. Yet even then, we couldn’t make it happen. The Splash Mountain ride came to a crashing halt for about a half hour, during which I shot the following. If it looks like my boys are waiting with cosmic patience, think again. The photo was just a ruse to keep them from beating on each other, which they went back to promptly after picture time was over. By the time we hit EPCOT, the rides were closed. So we ate at Fake Mexico where they thankfully had tequila.
For those of you wondering if I managed to get a tan during the sunny days, the answer is no. I wore 7spf sun screen, which is roughly the equivalent of living inside a dark cave. By way of proof, here’s me in Fake Japan telling Sam to return to his seat and give me back my expensive camera, which—if Max’s reaction is an indication—he hilariously stole.
Last Sunday, we left Disney World and returned home. Which is when the magic charitably ended and we all lived happily ever after.